First, through Bitten, I found this article by Tom Lee, which takes Alice Waters to task for elitism relating to her proposal for school lunch programs. Let's start with Bittman's comment: "...we forget that most people in the United States neither know nor care about such things, and that a large percentage of those are not, in general, eating well." I get what he's saying: we foodies can get a bit "precious" about our food. But I also have real problems with the thinking that, just because people don't know or care, we shouldn't try to raise awareness, fight for the integrity of school lunches, and share our passion with any who will listen. When it becomes elitist is when someone - let's take Bittman as an example - sits in their fancy kitchen, waxes poetic about organic school lunches, but doesn't actually do any real work to make it so. By definition, I am an elitist. Alice Waters is not. She has done the real work.
I get what Tom Lee is saying and I did agree with him that Waters is shooting for the moon and we might want to think more practically. BUT I don't think she's "dicking around" by using terms like "organic" and "locally produced". Not only that, but I resent his saying so. She's done most than the rest of us with the Edible Schoolyard, proving that it's viable and it can make a difference. And I have real problems with a system that has made "organic" and "locally produced" so difficult to procure: why should these be the hallmarks of the elite and pretentious? They shouldn't be. Alice Waters is right. I could really go off on this for ages, but I fear that I have already proved that I can't be terribly articulate about these sorts of things. But do read the article and think for yourself about it. Because I think we can all agree this isn't going away anytime soon.
The other article I read was from this week's NYT Dining section: "What's Eating Our Kids? Fears About 'Bad' Foods" by Abby Ellin. It just rubbed me wrong. Or maybe I'm only having one of those weeks... I guess I should have expected some backlash. But it just seems to me that the article is focusing on such an extreme example and holding it up as truth to all us foodies: Beware! Your kids could end up like this! Even the graphic accompanying the article is ridiculously sinister and foreboding. The article is focusing on the sensationalistic, the extreme and the alarmist. I'm disappointed.
Along these same notes, I have had some interesting discussions with Adam lately about drug addicts, religious fanatics, and foodies...and how they're all related. I made some flippant comment about religious zealots being a bit like drug addicts. Adam disagreed, pointing out that, if you were to ask a drug addict, they would probably agree that the whole world should not be addicted to drugs. The difficulty with the fanatical religious folks is that they think everyone should be addicted. Well, there's also a bit of this in the foodie too...and I have to admit there are certainly parallels. I've talked here, here, and here about the "conversion experience" and I totally want everyone else to have one. I don't understand why more people don't care and I desperately want to make them care: if only they could see, they would understand. I want people to see that the life of a foodie is the right one. Definitely parallels, I can't deny it.
I have some book reviews coming up so stay tuned. I promise they'll be frothy and fun...no more of this heavy dwelling. A little less coffee...more Champagne, please!
* Pleeeeeeeease forgive my blog post title. It's a quote from Pump Up the Volume. I couldn't resist.
Note: It should be added that, if you want the practicalities of implementing such a program at your local school(s), the Edible Schoolyard website offers lots of information and suggestions. The website alone is fascinating, but it also helps supplement many of the book's points.
The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by Lara M. Zeises (July 2009). Blurbs by E. Lockhart and Sarah Dessen - not bad!
Edible Schoolyard by Alice Waters!!! Thank you soooo much, Chronicle!
I browsed quickly through it, and the photos are gorgeous. I'll be sure to post an entire review once I read all the way through. However, I was thrilled when I spotted a page with "Principles of Edible Education." There are five principles total, which I'll share eventually, but here is the first one...just to whet your appetite:
Oh my god. It's like someone speaking directly to my soul. Not to be too dramatic or anything...
Eat, drink, and thank goodness we live in the same world as Alice Waters.
...so imagine my delight when I saw three new posts from Tiny Little Librarian in my Bloglines! I love her stuff. Keep blogging!
If you haven't checked her out and you work in a library, what the heck are you waiting for?! Go. Now.
* My post title is TLL's tagline on her blog.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
And as is customary when I've been absent awhile, everyone else has still been blogging. I have found all kinds of fantastic treasures in my Bloglines and email inbox:
- The List Universe has put together the Top 10 Most Overrated Novels. I'm down with Emma being on that list, especially when compared with Austen's other work. The listmakers got the right one; if they had stuck Sense and Sensibility on there I would have had some choice words for them. However...the Lord of the Rings trilogy?! They're out of their minds...or they're just as bad as those trolls that come along and say useless things with the sole purpose of pissing people off.
- I heard from Ellen at Avec Sucre...who heard from Clotilde...about this complaint letter sent to Sir Richard Branson regarding the food on a Virgin flight from Mumbai to London. Funny, funny stuff, my friends. Read it and weep.
- ALA has posted the phone calls made to the authors and illustrators for the Youth Media Awards at ALA Midwinter. Fun stuff! My favorites were Laurie Halse Anderson saying over and over, "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!" and when hearing that she would be invited to be on the Today show Beth Krommes said, "I watch that show every morning!" For the record, I found Neil Gaiman's swearing hilarious!
- In yet another intersection of food and children's literature, Readers' Books in Sonoma has a fantastic display idea: "homegrown stimulus package." In addition to having child-friendly books like Tillie Lays an Egg and Extraordinary Chickens on display, they also have locally grown eggs and will soon have local produce and preserves. Talk about exemplifying the idea of community! Thanks to my daily Shelf Awareness email for that tidbit.
- I can't believe I'm admitting this but...I found a version of milk chocolate that I actually like. Café-Tasse has been my chocolate of choice for awhile (with Dagoba, Vosges, and Scharffenberger making cameo appearances). My favorite Café-Tasse bar has been the Noir-Café (dark chocolate with coffee); however, I unintentionally grabbed the Lait-Café last time I was at the store. Well, you heard it from me first: it's Really Good. Incredibly creamy, equally rich. And it doesn't taste all jacked up on sugar. Granted, I'm not converted - I'll still go for the Noir. But I will thoroughly enjoy the Lait while it lasts. (And this all reminds me of an article in the NY Times a year ago today about milk chocolate making a comeback. I scoffed a year ago but now...)
- I'm a geek and here's why: I get the email updates about Spain...On the Road Again. I've been watching the show casually and enjoying it. It would be so wonderful to make some of the food that they eat but I feel that part of the reason it looks and sounds so good is because it is local to Spain. I'm just not going to get the same freshness of produce and seafood here...because, you know, I'm in NYC in February. Nevertheless, I might have to try this recipe. To quote Mario: "Fried bread soaked in wine...dangerous." Indeed. Here's it is:
* 3 cups olive oil
* 2 cups dry Spanish wine
* 3 large eggs
* Eighteen half–inch–thick slices crusty Spanish bread (or substitute a baguette)
* 1/4 cup sugar, mixed with 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
* Mosto (recipe for Mosto follows below)
- I have only very recently discovered the blog of my two new friends, Cindy and Lynn. They reviewed Dear Julia and I loved what they had to say. I hadn't made the parallel between Zemser and Joan Bauer but I think Cindy is right on.
Eat, drink, and beware of that food on Virgin...or any airline really.